Night Missions

I hate it when people interrupt me.

It makes me crazy sometimes.

I live alone in a small one-bedroom house in east Los Angeles. I’m retired Marine Gunny Sgt. Alan Todd Singleton. I try like hell to lead a quiet life. I go to the VFW Hall every afternoon for a beer…or two.

Sometimes the language gets salty when too many beers are consumed and a fight breaks out during these afternoon outings. I’ve lost track of how many morons have interrupted my conversations in the last year, and how many tough guys I punched out for the offense.

But, I have to be careful these days because the management is threatening to ban me if I get in another fight. I’ve taken to drinking at the bar now, and not at a table with others. I banter with the old Marine bartender, but avoid getting into any lengthy conversations with him.

The only reason I go to the VFW is to remind myself that I can be sociable. A normal guy. It’s a way to keep in touch with the human race without getting too intimate with anyone. I have too many secrets. Too many things that burden my conscience.

It’s the nights that are really bad for me.

Things happen. Violent things. My memories of my night excursions are almost always vague the next day. A convoluted series of snapshots and conversations. Sometimes I have to clean blood off my arms, face, and clothing – which I usually just burn.

One thing is terrifyingly clear; I hunt humans at night. I never stopped after coming back from my third tour-of-duty in the Nam. That was in 1970, and this is 2018. I’ve lived all over the United States these last few decades.

You can see why I would have to keep moving. Too many deaths in one area over a period of time attracts too much heat. The cops set up taskforces and the pickings get slim. Then it’s time to move.

I’ve managed to last a year here in east LA, but I suspect my time is coming to an end. Maybe forever. Skill and dumb luck will only take a man so far. I’ve beaten the odds thus far. I know that.

Especially after last night. The weird thing is I remember almost everything that happened.

I was walking aimlessly on North Eastern Avenue near the Santa Ana freeway, when three home-boys stepped out of a front-yard and blocked my path on the sidewalk. They laughed and flashed gang signs at me.

I couldn’t understand what they were saying. I never took Spanish in high school.

The volume of their curses rose and they all three pulled out their switchblades – slowly swaying them in front of me. I grabbed the first wrist, twisted it, took the knife, and slashed the gangster’s throat!

It wasn’t like I moved that fast, but I never wasted a move, and immediately grabbed the arm and wrist of the second assailant, twisting and breaking it like a twig. The third attacker lunged, as I threw the second down one down with a judo move.

I moved sidewise and let his momentum carry him by me…off balance. Then I tripped him and watched him hit the concrete sidewalk with a thick thud. His neck was twisted at an odd angle and partly hanging off the curb, when I turned my attention back onto the last remaining attacker.

He was crying and holding his broken arm, and didn’t put up any resistance when I put him in a chokehold and snapped his neck like a dry branch. No one came out of the houses. I was alone with three dead men, and thinking, “Mission accomplished.”

I think it’s time to go. The media is blasting about last night’s murders. Cops are as thick as fleas in my neighborhood this morning. Groups of  angry, and probably scared, gangsters are patrolling the hood…looking for answers. Looking for me.

A week later. Ft. Lauderdale, Florida

It was easy finding a VFW chapter with it’s own hall here. Lots of old military farts like me come to retire. Ex-Marines, Army, Navy, Air Force. We all like living in the sun. Keeps our old bones warm.

I wonder if there are any others like me out there that still carry out night missions?

I’ll tell right now…I wouldn’t be surprised if there were. I haven’t met one yet, but it seems like I can’t be the only trained killer in America that continued his craft after leaving the military.

I don’t mean by going to work as a mercenary or glamor bodyguard. I mean regular guys like me that chose to stay out of the limelight…and hunt. Guys who don’t need an audience when they slay their prey.

True hunters, like myself. Think about it.

As It Stands, as a veteran, I’m always exploring issues that deal with the military.

The Dauphin County Horror

Listen to master story-teller Otis Jiry narrate this story here.

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 1981

People began disappearing in the fall of 1979.  Not long after The Three Mile Island accident happened on March 28th.

The partial meltdown in reactor number 2 of Three Mile Island Nuclear Generating Station (TMI-2) in Dauphin County, caused widespread panic. Locally and nationally. Despite company denials, radioactive gases and radioactive iodine were released into the environment.

Nuclear agency experts assured the public there was no lasting damage done. The radioactive gases that escaped would soon dissipate, they told Dauphin County and Harrisburg residents.

The incident was rated a five on the seven-point International Nuclear Event Scale: Accident with wider consequences.

It wasn’t long before residents in Dauphin County reported seeing strange things in the woods in the aftermath of that accident. Strange lights and colors. A local farmer disappeared without a trace, leaving behind a bewildered family.

A year later, a couple of hunters claimed they saw a man-like thing tearing a deer apart – limb by limb – on their way back to their pickup truck. It was dusk.

When asked by friends at the bar afterwards why they didn’t shoot the thing, both men said they didn’t want to take the chance of killing a man. It was hard to make the figure out. He could have been a really big strong man. As far as they could tell, he wasn’t breaking any laws.

That night, on their way home, one of the hunters asked the other, “Why didn’t you say something about that thing eating the deer’s raw flesh? How it tore pierces of meat off the legs with its bare teeth?

“Who would have believed us?

“But, it’s true.”

“Don’t you understand Bob? It sounds like crazy talk and people would be laughing at us. You don’t want people laughing at you. Do you?

Henry dropped Bob off at his trailer. He didn’t want Bob to know how shaken he was. He wasn’t sure what they saw in the woods, but the next day when he backtracked their trail he found freshly broken deer leg bones, half a rib cage, and a skull with the eyes missing.

In the following months people began disappearing. Authorities searched everywhere. Including the woods. People were warned not to go out alone after dark. A dark pall had descended over the county. Fear.

Coffee shops were crowded with old men trading conspiracy theories like baseball cards. Bob and Henry went hunting again. They were both combat Vietnam veterans and never tired of one another’s company. Or hunting.

Both men lived alone. Bob’s wife had died of breast cancer. Henry was divorced. His wife couldn’t stand living with his PTSD. Both men carried Remington Model 783 Bolt-Action rifles, with 3-9×40 scopes. They were both expert shots and trackers.

For weeks they hunted for deer, and signs of the mysterious man who now haunted their dreams. Was it a man? If not, what? It was obviously powerful. And elusive.

The county sheriff was frantic. People continued disappearing. The word was getting out to the world. Something bad was happening in tiny little Dauphin County. National reporters were seen around town talking with residents. Sniffing around like curious squirrels on the scent of a story.

Henry adjusted his new Pulsar Challenger GS 3.5×50 mm Night Vision scope. He’d made a decision. He was going to “return to the jungle” and hunt the thing out there. He didn’t tell Bob. Both men were in their late 30s, but Bob wasn’t in as good as shape as Henry was. There wasn’t a pound of fat on him, unlike Bob who was losing the battle of the bulge to sweets and pasta.

As Henry prepared for his hunt, donning camos, and filling ammunition clips, he thought back to his days in Vietnam as a tunnel rat.

A flashlight and a .45 caliber pistol were all that stood between him and death when he slithered into the enemy’s tunnels. He was bit once by a venomous snake, but survived thanks to a savvy medic who carried snake anti-venom with him in the bush.

He packed his rucksack with enough supplies to stay out for a week. His web belt had a military K-Bar knife, two 20-round ammo pouches, two 30-round ammo pouches, and two 40-round ammo pouches,  a compass, and a length of rope. He had a custom-made sling for his Heckler & Koch Mp7 automatic pistol.

The Mp7 fired 4.6×30 mm ammunition capable of penetrating soft body armor. Henry liked that it was light – only weighing a couple of pounds but could bring on major heat. He grabbed his bolt-action Remington with the new night scope, and locked the front door. He pinned a note on the front door: “Back in a week. Visiting family.

The first three nights there was no sign of the thing. On the fourth night – on a hunch – Henry was checking out a perimeter fence surrounding the 3-Mile Island Generator Plant when he heard a scream.

Alarms went off and two security guards ran out of a small wooden shack. Henry watched them though his scope. They ran around with automatic weapons, shouting. Two more guards appeared and they were also shouting frantically.

From his position in the tree line, Henry watched the chaos unfold. Then he saw the thing! It had a man’s body tucked under one massive arm, and was loping along seemingly unconcerned with the noise less than 300 yards away.

Suddenly he burst into a run and disappeared further down the tree line. Henry jumped up from his kneeling position and gave chase. The thing was moving amazingly fast. It didn’t make a lot of noise but Henry’s ears were still keen enough to hear it.

After a hard five-minute run, the trees opened up and Henry saw rolling hills. And nothing else! Where did the thing go? He felt exposed out in the open on a full moon that caused shadows to appear everywhere.

Henry went back to the tree line and climbed halfway up a tall spruce. He picked a sturdy branch to sit on and lashed himself to the tree. He slept soundly, dreaming about a large underground complex he discovered in Cambodia in 1970.

The next day Henry walked around the hills looking for tracks and tunnels. It was well into the afternoon when he discovered a well-hidden cave that was big enough to stand upright in. The charnel house smell told him dead things were inside.

He loosened his Mp7 and popped a 40-round loader into the gun. Turning the LED light on his helmet to bright, he cautiously stepped into the dark interior. Minutes ticked by. At one point the cave branched off to the left, before continuing on in a straight line. Henry checked out the new opening and discovered mutilated human bodies inside!

Skulls and rotted flesh in piles. Broken bones. Gnawed on bones. Flies and maggots. Scraps of torn clothing clinging to headless torsos. This is where the missing people were. Butchered and forgotten.

As Henry took in the horror his sense of survival kicked in when he heard a noise from within the cave. Something was grunting and growling. That’s not Charlie out there good buddy, he murmured to no one.

The best defense is a good offense Henry use to tell his friends. No more thinking. Time to act.

Henry stepped out into the main tunnel and fired quick bursts in both directions. The shots thundered through the tunnels. No sign of the thing. Only the scent of gun powder. He popped the loader out and replaced it with another 40-rounder. It was time to get out of the tunnel.

It took him longer than he thought. He wasn’t out of the putrid tunnel until nightfall.

Instinctively getting out of the open, Henry trotted over to the edge of the forest. He re-slung his Mp7, and unhitched the sling holding his Remington Bolt action. He held the rifle up and peered through the night scope, waiting for the thing to appear.

It troubled Henry that he didn’t know what the thing looked like. Or what it was. It was best to know your enemy. He learned to never underestimate the North Vietnamese and the Viet Cong. To do so could mean your life. The more you knew, the better.

Hours later he spotted movement on a nearby hilltop. He focused the scope and found himself staring at the thing’s face. It might have been a man’s face once, but the grotesque thing he saw in his cross hairs was so misshapen it was unrecognizable as any known animal.

He squeezed the trigger on his Remington. The shot caught the thing near one of it’s uneven eyes. It looked startled at the impact, but didn’t fall down. Instead, it turned in his direction and charged!

He fired the Remington one more time, and dropped it while grabbing the Mp7. In one motion he popped a 30-round clip in it and fired away. The full burst only slowed the thing down. He tried to pop another clip in when the thing slammed into him, sending him violently backwards!

The Mp7 flew out of hands as he fell. Without thinking he drew his K-bar and staggered to his feet. His nose was bleeding profusely as the thing drew itself up. It was an abomination of a man. A hideous reminder of the perils of radiation, and body transformation.

Henry was startled to hear a gun shot. Sounded like a 12-gauge. Part of the thing’s head disappeared, and another shot followed. The thing swayed drunkenly and took a step towards Henry. Two shots this time! Both barrels slamming into the things chest. A pause. Then two more shots, and the thing crumbled to the ground, both legs blown away.

Bob stepped up to the still heaving body and ejected two shells. As he popped two more shells in he asked Henry if he was alright? Then he fired both barrels again into the midsection. They burned the thing afterwards.

As the two old friends walked away from the bonfire, Henry finally asked, “How did you know what I was doing Bob?”

“You haven’t got any family left like the note said. Other than me,” he chuckled. “I figured you wanted to hunt the thing, but didn’t want me to go along in case I’d get hurt. So I just followed you my friend, and covered your back.”

“Are we going to tell people what happened after the murders quit?” Bob wondered.

“Hell no! They’ll just think we’re crazy veterans telling war stories,” Henry assured him.

As It Stands, as the bard said, “all’s well, that ends well.”

The Liar Legion’s Last Stand


Andromeda Galaxy – Westrah, Ursae

The leader of the once unchallenged Liar Legions looked down at the valley below at the armies assembling against him and his warriors.

Arken was the legion’s last surviving  general. As he stood atop Mountain Purn his mind wandered. He remembered when he joined the legions as a mere boy of sixteen. Now, 30 years later, he and his men were all that stood between the Truth Teller hoards and his way of life.

He recalled better days when there was no penalties for lying. Just the opposite, a good liar moved up quickly in the legion leadership ranks. It had been so for uncounted centuries.

But the new century saw the rise of the unrelenting Truth Tellers. They based their beliefs on the truth – no matter how hard it was to pursue. For decades they infiltrated the government and quietly took it over – a bloodless coup…at first…

That changed after the riots in Tel-Pa city when a crowd of Truth Tellers killed two of the government’s legionnaires. In the ensuing crackdown, four Truth Tellers were arrested and later executed.

That was the moment when the Liar Legions saw the writing on the wall – they were no longer in charge because of their beliefs. Three legion generals gathered all the warriors who were willing to fight and die.

The chronicles say that many of the legions men surrendered and took oaths to always tell the truth. The hard-core that remained assembled in the nearby mountains. They picked the highest point, Mt. Purn, for their headquarters.

From there, they conducted raids against the ever-swelling ranks of the Truth Tellers. A year passed, before the combined forces of the Truth Tellers were able to overwhelm the legion’s outposts.

They still faced a formidable climb to get to the top of the mountain. Arken’s warriors set traps everywhere. It was winter and the freezing winds lashed out like a living thing. Yet, the legionnaires all knew it was just a matter of time before they died defending their beliefs.

Arken looked down at the base of the mountain where tens of thousands of tents were pitched. They were color coded by divisions. Their brilliant colors reminded Arken of when he was a child playing in the flowery fields of Danber, his birthplace.

It was there that he leaned how to properly lie, and when to lie. There were rules. He was schooled in them before being allowed to join the legions. There was a time for white lies, and a time for outright lies.

The right to lie was his inheritance. Being a patriot, he happily joined the legions and rose through the ranks. He could think of no greater honor than to die defending his beliefs.

As his mind wandered one of the warriors came running up to him.

“It’s started,” he said.

Arken tore himself away from his thoughts and followed the scout to the south side of the mountain. They looked like ants below. An endless line of ants slowly working their way up to them.

By midday the ants were working their steady way up from all directions. Hundreds died in the lethal traps his men set, but the others just pushed on relentlessly.

Arden wished they’d have had more time to fortify their headquarters. The outer wall was only five-feet tall. Not enough to stop a determined warrior.

When the first of the attackers finally hacked his way up and over the wall, he was met by a shield wall of grim veteran legionnaires. Others followed. Spears stopped the first wave of Truth Tellers.

The second wave battered the sword swinging legionnaires but their shield wall held fast. The enemy had to clear thousands of bodies out of the way to resume the attack. The depleted ranks of the Liar Legions prepared themselves for the third wave.

Despite the carnage Arken was still alive and leading his warriors. His armor was battered and covered in gore, like the others. As they waited for the next wave it began to snow.

That’s when the final assault was launched.

As It Stands, this tale is an opportunity to examine the validity of belief systems.

A Cautionary Tale: Immigrants From Earth


When the first of the immigrant ships from Earth arrived on Mars there wasn’t too much concern on the inhabitant’s part.

There was plenty of room on the planet. The Martians themselves were a peaceful species divided up into tribes that answered to a Supreme Council. The leaders of the Council met with the earthlings shortly after they landed.

The Captain of the ship, Lance Elliot, told the Martians that Earth was no longer safe to live on. It was badly polluted and climate change was creating havoc on every continent of the world.

Volcanos, earthquakes, drought, flooding, and wars were killing millions of people every day Captain Elliot explained.

We are immigrants who just want a chance to live in peace,” he concluded.

“What of our atmosphere? It’s deadly to you earthlings,” one of the leaders asked.

That’s true, but we have brought materials, and the technology, to build a dome with an ecosphere we could live in,” Captain Elliot countered.

Let us meet again tomorrow at this place. We must go home and discuss this matter further now.”

The next day.

Once the translator transmission signal was established between the two groups again, the Supreme Leader spoke,

We have given much thought to your request. We have been aware of your activities for hundreds of years. We don’t want the same scourges to destroy our world. Having said that, we have decided to let you stay for a trial period of twenty years.

You will be required to clean up your own messes and not pollute our planet. No military weapons will be allowed. We hope you will be good neighbors, and you can count on us to do our best to have friendly relations.

Know this, we are two different species, and the chance for misunderstandings is great. We must be honest with one another. We will leave you now to build your new home. You can always reach us through the communications signal we have established.


Captain Elliot and his officers returned to the ship and gave the order to start unloading their supplies.

More immigrants continued to arrive on Mars. They were from nations around the earth. They all accepted the terms the Martians presented. Each new community selected a leader whose task was to maintain good relations with other immigrant communities and the Martians.

Deep below the Martian crust, there were three immense cities housing millions. The one thing the Martian leaders were adamant about was there would be no contact between themselves and the earthlings.

Only leaders, would meet with their leaders in pre-arranged spots on the surface. The two populations weren’t going to mix. The earthlings were never going to see where they lived.

Years passed by peacefully. The great experiment, as some leaders called it, was going very well. Better than expected. Millions of earthlings relocated successfully there.

One day, a dome community that called itself Little Italy discovered a network of tunnels just outside of the dome area. Two miners went deeper underground than was agreed on in the Mining Provisions for Natural Resources Act signed two decades ago.

The miners didn’t have to go too far into the main tunnel before they stumbled upon ancient Martian funeral artifacts. Statues, fine pottery, and solid rock coffins were all carefully arranged to celebrate the dead.

When the two miners returned to the dome they brought death with them. Deadly ancient spores clung to their spacesuits, even after the decontamination process. The next day when people started dying, the leader of Little Italy went to the nearest dome community and warned them about a mysterious sickness that struck them.

That warning was passed on to all of the other communities by their leaders. Within two days every earthling on Mars was dead, thanks to the leaders who unwontedly spread the invisible death.

When the Martians saw what happened, they weren’t surprised.

As It Stands, mankind didn’t deserve a second chance after destroying the earth.




A Plan Of Disarray Kept The Martians Away


Listen to this story as narrated by master story teller Otis Jiry.

2088 Earth

Day 19 of the Martian invasion

Major Eric Hammer is passing out weapons to the survivors of the New York City massacre.

That’s what it was.

The Martians agreed to parley with the current American leader, former Speaker-of-the-House, Josh Angler, at Times Square. His predecessors were all killed during the first wave of the invasion.

The Martian Warlord, Nin-el Throth, who was in charge of the invasion fleet, stood in front of his spacecraft in the middle of Times-Square, waiting for the American leader to appear.

What onlookers didn’t know was that it was a hologram of the infamous warlord, and the spacecraft was really a remote-controlled bomb. When Josh Angler appeared the bomb blew up!

In that moment, eighty percent of the inhabitants of New York were vaporized.

Major Hammer, one of the survivors, spent months searching for other survivors. He found them in cellars, and under the debris of flattened buildings – sealed in, and barely alive.

The New York Skyline no longer existed.

In the center of the gutted city a Martian Battlewagon acted as a temporary headquarters. It stood 10 stories high and looked like a metal insect with an attitude. It housed over five hundred Martian fighters.

During his time searching for other survivors, Major Hammer studied his enemies. He watched their tactics and took notes. They patrolled in groups of ten. Surprisingly, they walked, and didn’t use transportation devices.

One day he watched a lone unkown sniper shoot four Martians before their fired back and killed him. He wished he would have found that sniper before he went solo. But he learned a valuable lesson, the Martians could be killed with conventional weapons like rifles.

It took a long time to train the growing group of survivors in urban warfare. Handing a person a weapon doesn’t mean they’re going to be effective with it. That takes time and patience.

He was one of only three survivors who was trained in warfare and weapons. The other two were recruitment officers that were waiting for retirement. The civilians brought other skills that helped hold the group of 145 together.

Constant scavenger parties collected food and other supplies and delivered them to their headquarters underground. They set up living quarters in forgotten old train tunnels below the subway system.

The time finally came when Major Hammer felt his ragtag army was ready to wage guerrilla warfare against the Martians. He’d discovered an armory stocked with weapons and ammunition and supplied his fighters with everything from hand grenades to assault rifles.

Hiding in the rubble of the Empire State building, Major Hammer’s raiders waited for the first patrol to pass by. The Martians confidently walked past the rubble. All ten were instantly cut down in a hail of gunfire and grenades!

Following Major Hammer’s lead, the ten raiders raced back to headquarters and waited to see what would happen. There was no retaliation. The Martians were unable to locate their attackers.

The raiding party waited for three days, and went back out and slaughtered another patrol before they knew what hit them. They attackers faded away like ghosts. The Martian Army Commander withered under Warlord Nin-el Throth’s anger, as he shouted at him from the main monitor on the officer’s deck.

Patrols were doubled. The attacks doubled too. Morale among the Martian’s was starting to erode. What once started as routine patrols were now considered combat missions. Worse, their enemies seemed to be invisible.

They knew humans were behind the attacks even though they didn’t have one body to prove it.

After attacking the second Martian patrol in one day, Major Hammer’s men captured one of the aliens. Using the same voice language software that allowed humans to talk with Martians, and vice versa, they questioned the captive.

After being tortured, the Martian spilled the beans about a major attack that was coming the next day. The Martians were going to launch an all out attack. Apparently a scouting party located human movement underground with ground penetrating radar.

They knew the general area to look in. Major Hammer gathered all of the men and women and told them what was going to happen the next day.

“This is it!” he told them. “We’re leaving now. Gather your gear and follow me.”

It took all night for Major Hammer’s raiders to reach the Martian Battlewagon. They took up positions of concealment and waited for the sun to come up. A slight drizzle coated the fractured roads and the rubble that use to be a busy city.

The Martians exited the Battlewagon shortly after the sun tried to peek out from behind the gathering storm clouds. The entire attack force filed out in neat formations. Major Hammer’s raiders waited until they were out of sight.

This was the moment of truth. In exchange for his life, the Martian captive agreed to approach the ship and seek entry. Tense moments passed before the massive ramp came down.

At that moment, the raiders ran up it and spread out, killing Martians wherever they found them. It took an hour before they had control of the ship. They brought wooden crates of dynamite with them and set time delay charges throughout the Battlewagon.

The commander of the Martian task force was the first to realize something was wrong when he heard the massive explosion that went on for several minutes. His fear was realized when a scout he sent out reported back with the news the battlewagon was blown to pieces!

The Martian Army commander was left with one choice; set up a perimeter, and prepare to die.

As It Stands, I enjoy writing stories of humans fighting back against superior alien forces. Win some, lose some. You never know.



























Adventure of a Lifetime: See Jeb



Raleigh, North Carolina

Okay, my friends! It’s time to put your backpacks on and to follow me!”

Seven people dressed for a long hike fell into an irregular line behind their guide Jeb Brewster, III. Four men, and three women. All city-slickers. All wearing expensive new gear and clothing.

All out for a big adventure.

“North Carolina is the Pine Tree State,” Jeb said, as he led his clients deeper into a narrow forest pathway.

We have eight different kinds of pine. My favorite is those loblolly pines on your right.” Nine pairs of eyes briefly swiveled to the right. Thus far, Jeb was the only one talking which wasn’t unusual.

Finally, the woman just behind Jeb asked, “How long until we set up camp?”

Another hour,” Jeb replied.

There were more than 5,500 acres of woodlands inside the city’s Outer Loop, and Jeb knew them all like the back of his hand. He was raised in these wild woods. His family, the Brewster’s lived in Raleigh since 1800.

Jeb came from a long line of famous guides, and trackers. His reputation brought in a steady flow of clients. He charged more than any of the other local guides, but promised an adventure of a lifetime.

He refused to take a client who wasn’t in good physical shape. He made his clients sign contracts that they would not sue him if something went wrong on the four-day excursion.

Jeb called for a 10-minute break for anyone who had to void their bladder. It was a good time to sit for a short spell. Jeb had set a brutal initial pace to make sure they made it to the first clearing to camp out before night fall.

The group sat around a fire Jeb built and smoked weed. They laughed, ate food, and told scary stories late into the night. Jeb listened, but didn’t contribute to the story-telling. He quietly sipped on a silver flask filled with homemade moonshine.

A Red Wolf howled as the group settled down for the night. Two raccoons watched them from the concealment of the debris on the forest floor. A Bobcat slowly approached the fire but suddenly ran away when Jeb threw a rock at it.

The pace was slower the next day. They were in Cherokee territory when Jeb began pointing out small monuments, and grave sites off the beaten trail. He talked to them about how the white man almost wiped the Cherokee off the face of the earth.

On the second night they camped out near a running stream. This time the group built the bonfire. After listening to the group tell their stories for awhile Jeb spoke up, “I’ve got a story for you folks.” 

The little group turned their full attention on Jeb.

My kin have been up here for over 200 years. The first Brewster to enter these parts befriended the Cherokee people. We even intermarried. My mother was mostly Cherokee. Through all of these years we’ve hunted these woodlands.

“Heck! We still enjoy hunting, but we’ve been running out of game for the last twenty years.”

One of the men coughed, and then passed his pipe to the woman next to him.

That’s why I decided to start my own guide business. City folk like adventures in the wild and like I told you from the onset, I’ll provide you with the experience of a lifetime. If you live through it, you’ll agree.”

Nine worried sets of eyes latched onto Jeb. “What the hell?” one man asked.

Then the group saw them. They were wearing traditional war paint and carried tomahawks. Their leader came up to Jeb…and they hugged.

Joseph says he’ll give you a lead,” he told the group. “You have until daylight. If you bear north you just might make it back to Raleigh!”

As It Stands, traditionally native Americans have got the short end of the stick. I thought I’d reverse that for once.

Escape From the Slaughterhouses of Het-Kre

sf183_ghoulTrent was one of a few lucky humans on Ridon to escape death before the warlords of Zurpt-Major obliterated it.

The attack came so quickly that the humans were overwhelmed.

If Trent and his crew of two weren’t test-flying the new ES Star Chaser in space, they would have been destroyed with the rest of humanity.

Ridon’s last three humans, Trent, Sally, and Rick, watched in horror for two days as the planet erupted into fireballs and turned into space debris. They only had one option left. Go to Xenalth.

Xenalth and Ridon had been allies for over 200 years. Travel back and forth was strictly regulated to visiting and going on tours. Xenalth had a more advanced civilization and technology, but willing became friends with the inhabitants of Ridon.

For unknown reasons the two species enjoyed each others company.

The crew of the ES Star Chaser approached Xenalth’s Intergalactic Landing Ports and waited for clearance. It only took a couple of minutes before their craft was given the okay, and directions to a parking pod.

Their first stop was Xenalth’s High Council headquarters. The Five leaders of Xenalth were waiting for them when they arrived at the council chambers. Lord Asherath, spoke for the others and said, “Are hearts are heavy for you. We monitored the attack on your planet with great alarm.”    

“We seek sanctuary great lords,” Trent said.

There was a flurry of voices among The Five. “Never happened.” “It’s against all rules.” “Where else can they go?”  

Trent and his crew listened through their translator earbuds.  Their fate was on the line. The discussion took about 30 minutes before Lord Asherath announced, “We cannot break our laws and let you live here permanently. However, we can grant you temporary asylum while you look for another planet to live on.”

Resupplied, the crew of the ES Star Chaser, went in search of another planet that could sustain them. The recently refined ship’s computer tracked other planets that could meet their basic requirements of breathable air, water, and proper gravity.

They found a possible candidate one day. It did have life forms, but that wasn’t necessarily bad. They landed at the edge of a lush jungle. There were dozens of dilapidated space ships scattered around in the open plain.

After securing the perimeter around the ship, they set out into the jungle.

It wasn’t long before they suspected they were being followed. Figures kept darting in and out of the heavy underbrush and trees alongside of them. Trent held his hand over his laser sword as he led the way.

They finally came into a large clearing with a dozen massive wooden buildings. Out front, stood a group of very short earth-like, heavily-muscled men, and women.

Their skin was a mottled gray, and they were naked, except for the sparkly charms that hung around their necks and wrists. The leader stepped up to them. He was the only one with something on his head; dull red ribbons of cured meat wrapped around his skull in a crude turban.

Sally came prepared, and pulled out a pair of translator earbuds which she handed him. She took hers out, smiled, and showed him how to put one in each ear. His eyes lit up with surprise, but he didn’t take them out.

In the ensuing conversation they discovered that the people lived in small clans, but all worshipped the same gods. They called their planet Het-Kre. There were thousands of clans who ruled the planet according to the leader, Huth.

He built a crude fire and they sat around on logs and rocks, talking for many hours. Rick was an intuitive guy. He was always able to read people by their eyes and body movements. That’s why he whispered to Trent that he didn’t trust their host.

Everyone slept outside. Rick agreed to take first watch. As the hours slowly crept by his curiosity about the buildings increased. Why not sleep in them instead of outside? He stood up and stretched.

The first building was just a few yards away. He walked up to it and peered inside. Too dark to see anything. Pulled out his utility light and shone it on the racks of…meat. But this meat had human-like faces that looked similar to Huth. And, meat from other species splayed open on drying racks.

Bodies were split open like cattle. They ran in neat rows. Troughs for blood. Drying skins hanging from the ceilings. It was a slaughterhouse. He rightly guessed that their main staple on this planet was the residents themselves, and any unlucky travelers that came their way.

He cautiously left the foul room and went back to where Tent and Sally were sleeping. “Time to go,” he whispered into their ears. Without question, they followed Rick back into the forest. After they’d gone a distance, Rick told them what he saw.

It was light when they made it back to the ES Star Chase. Back in space they talked about what to do next. “Let’s find a planet that no one else is living on and start our own civilization,” Sally said, with a coy look at them.

Both men smiled, and asked, “What shall we call it?”

As It Stands, I could see doing a novella on these three characters. What do you think?